LOS ANGELES — Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has acknowledged that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff, a revelation that apparently prompted wife Maria Shriver to leave the couple's home before they announced their separation last week.
More Entertainment stories
Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts
In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matching the steps of the professional Australian ballet dancer whose image is seen in the video's lower corner.
- Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
- See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
- Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
- 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom
- Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts
Schwarzenegger and Shriver jointly announced May 9 that they were splitting up after 25 years of marriage. Yet, Shriver moved out of the family's Brentwood mansion earlier in the year after Schwarzenegger acknowledged the child is his, The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.PhotoBlog: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver in happier times
"I ask that the media respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time," the statement concluded. "While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not."
Schwarzenegger's representatives did not comment further.
"This is a painful and heartbreaking time," Shriver said in a statement. "As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment."
Their son, Patrick, 17, broke silence Tuesday, Tweeting, "Some days you feel like s---, some days you want to quit and just be normal for a bit, yet I love my family till death do us apart. #family."
That was followed later in the day by a Twitter message from his sister, 21-year-old Katherine Schwarzenegger.
"This is definitely not easy but I appreciate your love and support as i begin to heal and move forward in life," she said. "I will always love my family!"
When Schwarzenegger and Shriver first announced their separation last week, Patrick on Twitter called it a "Small speed bump I'n life, luckily we own hummers, we will cruise right over it. All will be okay. #peace."
The couples other two children are Christina, 19, and Christopher, 13.
What's most stunning about the revelation is how long Schwarzenegger managed to keep his family — and the public — in the dark, prominent Los Angeles divorce attorney Steve Mindel said, adding that Schwarzenegger may have been able to conceal signs, such as child support, because of his wealth.
"Clearly, Arnold has done a spectacular job of keeping it secret," he said.
The child was born before Schwarzenegger began his seven-year stint in public office.
The Times did not publish the former staffer's name but said the woman worked for the family for 20 years and retired in January.Video: Schwarzenegger: I fathered child with staffer (on this page)
In an interview Monday before Schwarzenegger issued his statement, the former staffer said another man — her husband at the time — was the child's father. She said she voluntarily left her position with the couple "on good terms."
When the Times later informed the woman of the governor's statement, she declined to comment further.Video: Schwarzenegger and Shriver split (on this page)
In his first public comments since the couple announced their breakup, Schwarzenegger said last week that he and Shriver "both love each other very much ."
"We are very fortunate that we have four extraordinary children and we're taking one day at a time," he said at a Los Angeles event marking Israeli independence.
Since his term as California governor ended in early January, Schwarzenegger, 63, has hopscotched around the world, his wife nowhere in sight. While the "Terminator" star appeared confident about the future since exiting politics, cutting movie deals and fashioning himself as a global spokesman for green energy, Shriver, known for her confidence, seemed unsettled.Video: California in shock over Schwarzenegger confession (on this page)
When her husband entered politics, Shriver, 55, maintained her own identity, though she gave up her job at NBC. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.) Their union was often tested in Sacramento, where the former action star contended with a rough seven years of legislative gridlock, a budget crisis and lingering questions about his fidelity.
The estranged couple's initial separation statement referred to "a time of great personal and professional transition for each of us" but gave no hint of what caused the split. Shriver had also mentioned "transitions" in a Facebook posting earlier this year but gave no details.
At the time, it seemed most likely to be a reference to the end of her role as California's first lady. Shriver never moved to Sacramento during Schwarzenegger's tenure, but she used her position to run a popular yearly women's conference that drew high-profile attendees.
Shriver's mother was the sister of assassinated President John F. Kennedy and her father, Sargent Shriver, was the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972. Sargent Shriver died in January at the age of 95.
Though a lifelong Democrat, Shriver campaigned for her Republican husband when he sought to recall and replace then-Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, in 2003.
She took to the stump to help Schwarzenegger win re-election in 2006.
Schwarzenegger has been dogged for years by allegations of womanizing. They almost derailed his move to politics in 2003 when he was elected to replace recalled Gov. Gray Davis.Story: Essay: When powerful men cross the line
Days before the election, the Times reported accusations from numerous women that the handsome, muscular star of the "Terminator" films and seven-time Mr. Olympia had groped them on movie sets. That was hardly his only brush with controversy. He had jokingly smoked marijuana on camera in the bodybuilding documentary "Pumping Iron," and over the years before he married Shriver, he had acknowledged a profligate sex life. In a 1977 interview with the adult magazine Oui, he boasted of taking part in an orgy and of numerous other sexual exploits, some of them backstage at bodybuilding competitions. During his gubernatorial campaign, he chalked those incidents up to youthful indiscretions, and during his years as governor presented himself as a dedicated family man. In 2001, when he was considering running for governor, he railed against single-parent families. "The number of single parents in the U.S. has quadrupled since the '60s, and there has also been an increase in violence and school shootings," he told the online magazine Salon at the time. "All that stuff has increased largely because of a lack of parenting, and many households only have one biological parent — so many of them are fatherless. It really creates a big problem." He and the family never moved to Sacramento, preferring instead to stay in their sprawling Southern California enclave. During the early days of his governorship, Schwarzenegger stayed at the Hyatt across the street from the Capitol, but later said that his family was unhappy he was away so much, so he flew home to Santa Monica on his private jet most nights. Aides said he would drop everything if Shriver or one of their four children called his Capitol office, and always had time for them. Schwarzenegger even did regular dad duty during his 2006 re-election campaign, toting around a paper cut-out of a boy for his youngest son Christopher's third-grade class project. After debating Democratic rival Phil Angelides, Schwarzenegger pulled the Flat Stanley out of his pocket and asked Angelides to pose for a picture with him holding it. Yet he often cracked jokes about Shriver being angry with him, particularly over politics, sometimes making surprisingly personal comments, such as a remark in his first term after his speech to the Republican National Convention, "there was no sex for 14 days." Since leaving office, Schwarzenegger has hopscotched around the world, fashioning himself as a spokesman for green energy and announcing plans to resume his movie career.
He's to star as a horse trainer in a planned drama called "Cry Macho" and has talked about resurrecting his signature "Terminator" character.Video: California in shock over Schwarzenegger confession (on this page)
Schwarzenegger and comic-book legend Stan Lee recently announced he would voice the lead character in an animated TV series called "The Governator," in which he would play himself.
Lee and Your Family Entertainment, the company that planned to distribute the series, declined to comment on Tuesday's developments.
Prominent entertainment publicist Michael Levine, who has handled crisis public relations for Michael Jackson and others, believes Schwarzenegger has irreparably damaged his Hollywood comeback, noting his behavior could alienate his female audience.
But Mindel said the public is incredibly forgiving of charismatic celebrities like Schwarzenegger.
"The public will forgive you once or twice," he said. "The public will forgive him if he minds his Ps and Qs for a while."
The Associated Press, Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.